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Oil Rewrites Record Book

Crude futures exceed $97 a barrel intraday and end at an all-time high.

Updated from 4:30 p.m. EST

Oil broke records again Tuesday, reaching an intraday high above $97 before easing slightly, as trading momentum continued to push crude upward.

When trading wound down, December light sweet crude had climbed $2.72 to $96.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a best-ever close. Reformulated gasoline was 5 cents higher at nearly $2.44 a gallon, and heating oil rose 7 cents to $2.61 a gallon.

The December natural gas contract lost 14 cents to finish at $7.86 per million British thermal units.

Crude's old record close was $95.93, which was set on Friday. "Today was more of the same," said Citigroup Global Markets energy analyst Tim Evans. "We extended the push to the upside on the drumbeat of $100-a-barrel oil."

Evans noted that the size of the increase in the price of oil wasn't unusual, considering where it now trades. "Two- and three-dollar swings in the price of crude are becoming routine at these high altitudes."

Bad weather in the North Sea, which could potentially cause some short-term supply problems in the global market, also was on traders' minds, Evans said.

The Energy Information Administration will release its latest petroleum inventory report on Wednesday. Analysts are expecting the report to show that last week's inventories fell due to lower imports from Mexico, according to Evans.

Part of Mexico's production had been shut in during the prior week because of severe weather in the Bay of Campeche. Tighter inventory figures will likely send the price of crude higher.

Meanwhile, energy stocks gained ground, fueled by the rise in energy commodity prices.

Exxon Mobil

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advanced 3.1% to $90.38.


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climbed 1.5% to $85.14.



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announced that its profits fell 21% in the third quarter because of lower refining margins. However, shares of Valero still rose 4.8% to $72.73 after its adjusted earnings surpassed analysts' lowered expectations.

Exploration and production firm

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reported that its net income plummeted 64% in the third quarter. The company blamed lower production rates and lower natural gas prices for its poor performance.

Still, Anadarko's stock also rose, adding 3.5% at $59.87.